Investigating the role of mitophagy in inflammatory bowel diseases

University of Edinburgh

Past award

Student: Arina Tamborska : University of Edinburgh

Year Award Started: 2016

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are incurable illnesses, often affecting the young with devastating impact. Individuals with IBD may be malnourished, experience severe abdominal pains and diarrhoea. Recent human genetic studies have shown that a biological process, autophagy (cellular ‘self-eating’) is important in the cause of IBD. Living cells rely on autophagy to remove and recycle cellular products to remain healthy. Major targets for autophagy are the mitochondria (cellular ‘batteries’). Damaged mitochondria are highly inflammatory. We have shown that IBD individuals have high mitochondria products in the bloodstream which are likely leaked from the gut. We think that the autophagy process fails to remove damaged mitochondria (‘faulty batteries’). In this study, we will check the evidence for this in gut tissue in IBD and test in gut cells in a dish, if blocking autophagy increases the leakage of mitochondria products. If correct, new drug treatments can be designed.

Research area: Infections, inflammation or immunology


Dr Gwo-Tzer Ho
MRC Centre for Inflammation Research